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Why Diversity Isn’t Our Strength
The madness of pluralism and the goodness of Christ's rule
“In Canada, we know that diversity is a tremendous strength — and we’ve fought hard together to secure and defend the rights and freedoms of all Canadians.”
Justin Trudeau, Prime Defender of Rights and Freedoms*1
At its most basic, pluralism is simply the state of being plural. As a political and religious philosophy, however, it has come to mean something closer to “Diversity is inherently beneficial to society.” The assumed validity of this premise isn’t simply a passing academic fetish, either. It has proved wildly popular with businesses, communities, governments — and that shining vanguard of diversity, the steelworkers union.
Part of the problem is that pluralism is no longer something most people even recognize as a foreign idea. It has become the water we swim in. To even question its healing properties means that you are probably a damp, cave-dwelling creature that still lives off roots and raw mammoth.
Thankfully, all of us here at Dominion Press long ago accepted our lot as cave creatures and so are happy to ask the forbidden questions.
So — Is pluralism good for society? A few things need to be said here.
1. We need to distinguish the diversity of creation from the “diversity” of materialism
Diversity itself is a good thing. Not only has God designed the world as a diverse place, but He Himself has always existed as a plurality (Father, Son, and Spirit). We look around and behold an almost reckless variety in every square inch of creation. For example, there are more than 930 billion different organisms living in a single pound of your backyard soil. There are also 11,500 types of grass in the world and 1,400 species of bats. So — yes, diversity is good. It is good because everything God makes is good and what He has chosen to make is diverse.
But the diversity of creation is not beautiful simply because of its eclecticity. It is beautiful because its varied reflections can be traced back to a single light source:
Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Consider the mysterious force of “instinct” that provokes geese to fly south and monarchs to congregate in Mexico. In these decisions, they are not acting randomly but in line with a unified design. I have yet to see a splinter group of geese recruiting followers to fly North for the winter, or a rogue team of Monarchs vacationing on the slopes of the Andes mountains. Diversity, viewed through the lens of the natural world, is not a panoply of individual expressions desperately trying to make themselves heard. The diversity of creation is manifest in it simply being and doing what it is supposed to do. It is a natural and beautiful plurality — a chorus of unlikes joining their voices to “seek their food from God” (Psalm 104:21).
Materialism affirms a kind of diversity too, but not the kind you want living next door. The diversity of materialism might more accurately be called fragmentation; it views the universe as an assembly of isolated pieces all going their seperate ways with no real goal in view. It is not the diversity of complexity but the “diversity” of chaos. For materialists, the peaceable diversity that arises from submission to God’s law is impossible, because “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7).
As the West has abandoned the knowledge of God, it has lost its ability to enjoy the intrinsic diversity of the natural world. Instead, it has become enamoured with the idea of co-opting diversity for use as a political bludgeoning tool. Diversity as a state of being has limited use; diversity as a virtue can become a powerful means of manipulation. Our dear leader said it best: “Diversity is our strength.” Not only does such a statement reflect a bleak and hopeless worldview, it is also incoherant. Diversity, in itself, doesn’t necessarily make anything stronger. The fact that you have two professional bowlers, a welder, and a veterinary technician on your olympic swimming team doesn’t make you a “stronger” team.
Ironically, our manic obsession with diversity has also resulted in an increasingly un-diverse society. In our haste to empower diversity as a tool of persuasion, we are in the midst of exiling every shred of actual diversity. In our desire to sever education, justice, and civil liturgy from their divine source, we are being reduced to an ugly, secular monoculture.
Variety will exist in a healthy society; but it won’t look like race quotas, pride days, and gender equality indexes. It won’t look like policies implemented by a morally insecure union somewhere. It will look like the organic and subtle complexity that arises when different people, from different backgrounds, mix and meld around a set of true and transcendant principles.
2. Not all ideas are equal
Now, we need to address the elephant in the room. The convinction that no idea, religion, or culture is better than any other isn’t enlightened. It's more. . . how do I say this gently . . . bat-shit crazy.
The idea that cows are sacred and should be revered while people starve in the streets is not equal to the idea that “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” The idea that men can give birth and breastfeed is not equal to the idea that women can give birth and breastfeed. The idea that children should be affirmed in the bodies they were born with is not equal to the idea that children should change genders should they feel like it. The idea that a coherant cosmos emerged from a tickle-trunk of nothingness is not equal to “God, who said ‘Let let shine out of darkness.’”
The only people who believe in the equality of such ideas are the same people Lewis referred to as “too modest to believe in the multiplication table.”
In our haste to affirm every idea and philosophy, we have “humbled” ourselves into an inconceivable stratum of stupidity. The Canadian value of endorsing every stupid idea that floats downstream is a neat explanation of why everything has become so stupid. It isn’t because we lack “diversity.” The reason our presence on the national stage so much resembles a clown show is that we only hire clowns to run everything.
3. Legitimate diversity arises from a common pursuit of good
We — we only among all creation — have come to embody the kind of “diversity” known more commonly throughout the cosmos as rebellion. We will not unite under God. We will not unite under truth. If we will unite under anything, it will be our kinship in revolt. Blots on the landscape of human history — the fall, the tower, the crucifiction — have become our moments of triumph. Our shame has become our glory.
But amoral societies don’t produce diversity. They congeal as a collective mind that only wants to impose its shabby utopian visions on sheep without a shepherd. They do not engage in the dominion-making of elves and hobbits — of tending and training wildness into useful and ennobling channels. Rather, they become like Sarumon, viewing the world and its people as things to be used for their own destructive ends.
True diversity — the kind that produces cathedrals, universities, and great art — rises out of a love for God’s truth. It is from this soil that minds like Tolkien, Pascal, Livingston, Lewis, Rutherford, Newton, Aquinas, and Augustine emerged. It is once again the beautiful and productive diversity that thrives from submission to God’s law.
But not just the World
Many Christians, if not explicitly affirming pluralism, at least exist in a state of resigned acquiescence to it. This is clear from our rather sheepish retreat from the public square. It turns out that the religious culture that gave us “Invite Jesus into Your Hearts” would now prefer that Jesus, and His demands, stay there.
For example, an article published last week made the claim that, “Advocacy for truth and righteousness is not what the New Testament opposes. It is against using the state to reward or punish acts because they are part of the Christian religion.”
Just to be clear, no one that I know is talking about “using the state to reward or punish acts because they are part of the Christian religion.” Several people I know are calling the state to reward or punish acts because they are part of God’s universal demands. Here we see how deeply the assumptions of pluralism have sunk into the evangelical psyche. Though I know this isn’t what John Piper believes, someone reading the above claim who doesn’t know what he believes might easily assume he views the Christian faith as one possible set of principles among many. In other words, principles that are really only relevant for those that accept them as true.
But Christian principles aren’t principles merely for those who happen to adhere to the Christian religion. They are principles for everyone — because they are God’s principles. In other words, “God’s Word is the truth. It is public truth. It is true for everyone, not just Christians.”2
I’d be interested in hearing how Christians who’ve resigned themselves to irrelevance would explain the origins of freedom, liberty, and prosperity in the West (gifts which have permitted the church in the West her freedom to worship according to conscience these many hundreds of years). These didn’t emerge because the government had access to a private cache of neutral principles that could somehow “provide our society with peace and justice.” There are no neutral principles. Which means that the state is always going to be biased towards some set of principles. Would we rather they be secular principles? Or Hindu principles? Or Islamic principles? Or Christian principles.
The reason that nations that abide by Christian principles have flourished whereas those who haven’t — haven’t — is because Christianity is true and the gods of the nations are idols (Psalm 96:5). We know this because this is what God has actually said. We do not need to grope blindly in the dark.
The Canadian founding fathers believed that apart from the Christian faith, we have nothing to build on. They knew that forming a nation on the assumption of Christ’s dominion from sea to sea would be the only basis for a truly free and prosperous society. They were not worried about the fact that a nation built on Christian principles might result in not everyone being Christian. They were more worried about the fact that without Christian principles, there would be no nation of Canada in the first place. Or at least, not one that anybody would want to live in.
The question remains: do we actually believe this? Do we actually believe that God's truth is the only truth there is? Do we actually believe that the only way a nation can thrive — the only way anyone can thrive — is to build on the truth? And do we actually believe that God’s truth is the only truth by which men may live?
In Canada’s a priori commitment to philosophical and religious pluralism, we are destroying our nation. We are not stronger, but weaker, for our drooling over every new idea that walks by in a red dress. This is because those who worship idols will eventually become like them (Psalm 115:8). In pledging our allegiance to flags of godlessness and divisiveness we are only advancing the balkanization of an already fractured people.
In this, the church needs to wake up.
The fact is, there isn’t going to be much left after the coming pagan nuclear winter has finished reintroducing our society to a second dark age. At that point, “This world is not my home I’m just a-passing through” isn’t going to cut it. The idea that our responsibilities as a citizen in the Kingdom of God excludes us from our responsibilities as a citizen of Canada, or the United States, or the United Kingdom — isn’t a Christian idea. Love for neighbour and, yes, love for country, requires that we care about what happens to them.
Canada will need a unifying, transcendant principle if we’re ever going to emerge from the hellhole of secularism. Christians needs to be poised to remind our nation of its roots and our only hope: One Lord, One Faith, One baptism.
From the cave, and enjoying our mammoth,